Paul Stephenson wins Paper Swan Poetry Pamphlet Prize 2017

Paul Stephenson

It’s yet another one-two-three for The Poetry Society Members as Paul Stephenson‘s Selfie with Waterlilies wins this year’s Paper Swan Poetry Pamphlet Prize, Karen Jane Cannon is second for Emergency Mints, and John Wheway is third with What is Lost.  Included on the shortlist of ten were Poetry Society Members Olivia Dawson and Sarah Leavesley.

Judge Jill Munro says of the winning pamphlet:

I wanted to find a set of poems which provoked strong empathy and emotion in this reader and which will hopefully have the same effect on many others and, I believe, in Selfie with Waterlilies by Paul Stephenson, I have found this.

From the intriguing opening poem Turkish Delight to the brutal honesty of the closing one, Appeasement, the poet takes us on a journey which, whilst being rooted in familial and everyday experiences such as meals, travel, childhood and teenage angst, takes surreal twists and turns, wrapped up in a playful, yet crafted, joy in language. The issue of parental loss overarches but with a sideways glance that never means this rests heavy-handedly in the pamphlet. In a self-referential age, the ‘Selfie’ of the title is not overly intrusive and the ‘Me reflected from above’ (a phrase from the title poem) could be any one of us reflected from above, ‘seeing blue’. These are poems of the familiar yet exotic, of home and abroad, of Uncle Ben’s Rice and Baklava, of Rotherhithe and Russia, of seething and soothing – so ‘buckle and tighten’ (Waistcoat of Life) and enjoy the ride. Congratulations Paul.



Paul Stephenson — Selfie with Waterlilies

Second place:

Karen Jane Cannon — Emergency Mints

Third place:

John Wheway — What is Lost

Highly Commended:

John Foggin — Advice to a Traveller
Jonathan Totman — Explosives Licence


Olivia Dawson — Peep Show
Helen Kay — This Lexia and Other Languages
Neil Leadbeater — Punching Cork Stoppers
S. A. Leavesley — After My Mother Broke
Reuben Woolley — We’ll Do a Last Tango

Read more

7 August 2017